Sexual Deviants: An Exploratory Study of Sexual Misconduct Among Federal Inmates

Hilary Estes, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale

This study examined the problematic behavior of a subgroup of inmates housed at the United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. Approximately 10 percent of the inmates at USP Marion engaged in sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct was manifested in the forms of indecent exposure, engagement in sexual acts and sexual propositions. Forty-two inmates met this criterion for inclusion in a group conceptualized as the sexual deviants. A random sample was drawn consisting of 72 general population inmates. Seven sex offenders were identified and 11 sex offenders who also engaged in sexual deviancy comprised a fourth group under exploration. Profiles of all four groups on 19 independent variables were generated (demographics, background variables and institutional variables).

Aside from creating profiles for the groups, this research was interested in determining how the sexual deviants significantly differed from the random sample. The sex offenders were dropped from the statistical analyses due to the small sample size. The sex offenders who also engaged in sexual misconduct were included in the sexual deviant category (n=53). Independent samples t-tests were ran to test for statistically significant differences between the sexual deviants and the random sample. Correlational analysis was also conducted. Regression models were used to determine which independent variables predicted all prison misconduct, sexual misconducts and selected infractions.

Statistically significant differences were observed between the groups in their marital status, gang affiliation, race, alcohol and drug history, education and havuing ever committed an infraction. Sexual deviants engaged in all varieties of misconduct at Marion and at prior institutions. Furthermore, the sexual deviant variable was a more powerful predictor of all forms of misconduct, including nonsexual misconduct, than marital status, education, age, race, prior history, time served and criminal associates.

Results from this study support the utility in examining institutionalized sexual deviancy. Future research directives have been provided as well as the role of research in correctional policy initiatives.

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Updated 05/20/2006